Sunday 26 October 2014

Interview with High Fighter And Exclusive Stream of Debut EP - The Goat Ritual

High Fighter. Maybe not a name you know now but hopefully you will in the next 12 months or so.  High Fighter are about to release their stunning debut EP – The Goat Ritual – which is a stunning mix of Blues Rock, Hard Rock and Stoner Metal riffs that will punish you into submission. Check it out for yourselves with this Sludgelord Exclusive stream of 'The Goat Ritual' before you read the epic interview below.

High Fighter is made up of a group of fantastic musicians listed below:

Mona Miluski - vocals ( ex- A Million Miles )
Christian "Shi" Pappas - rhythm guitar ( ex- A Million Miles )
Ingwer Boysen - lead guitar ( ex- Buffalo Hump )
Constantin Wüst - bass ( ex- Buffalo Hump )
Thomas Wildelau - drums ( ex- Pyogenesis & Buffalo Hump )

Mona has been a good friend of mine and to Sludgelord over the last two years or so, ever since I reviewed her last band's – A Million Miles last album, 'What's Left Behind'. Sadly, soon after A Million Miles split. I know that Mona went through a tough time of it back then. I have been pushing for an interview with Mona for about 18 months now but it was never the right time as she was busy with her PR Work which has seen her represented some of Stoner/Sludge Metal's biggest names.

Well she is back with a kick-ass new band. And she is joined by Christian (“Shi”), Ingwer, Constantin and Thomas, members and veterans of bands such as A Million Miles, Buffalo Hump and Pyogenesis. So these guys definitely have the talent to form a heavy as hell new band. High Fighter is the name.

Their new EP 'The Goat Ritual' is a fantastic. Heavy as hell, with loud angry riffs and dangerous vocals provided by Mona, who feels like she has a demented violent personality starting to take over and unleash chaos upon to the world.

I am pleased to say that High Fighter have given their first ever interview as a band to ourselves here at Sludgelord HQ. So lets get started with High Fighter.

Q1 – Hi all. Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today.

Mona: Hey Steve, thanks – things are are going great! We have finally unveiled our new band and first EP today, so this is all very exciting of course! Thank you for the continued rock support, and it´s really good finally talking to you man, it´s been a while...

Q2 – Can you give our readers a brief history of the band and where it is today. As you all come from such different and great bands.

Mona: That history is a short run and the story won´t take long. After our previous band A Million Miles parted ways in 2013, Shi and I took some break from music, too tough and deep was the split, and both of us had to focus getting back on our feet, dealing with daily life and jobs, reflecting a lot of what happened as well, but we both needed some rest I guess. After a couple of months of re-covering and in early 2014, we decided to do some jams, to see where it goes and how it feels, and simply having a good time again.

We actually formed that new band project with former A Million Miles- drummer Shiny, who has been in the band from 2009 – 2011. We started to look for a bassist, and it was Ingwer who came along to jam with us, but after a short run we felt how good he is on the guitar, what sounds and vibe he had, so that we wanted him playing our lead guitar on this project. Fortunately he was cool with that. ;)

Through job circumstances, Shiny could´t join the band long, so in summer 2014 it was just Shi, Ingwer and I, needed a drummer and still the bassist slot was to fill in. Ingwer, who has been the guitarist of the awesome Stoner Rock group Buffalo Hump for years, came up with the idea to bring his long-time band members of Buffalo Hump for a jam, and when he did, it all came out very naturally, and it felt like we have been playing together for years. Since Buffalo Hump were without a singer to that time, Ingwer brought 2 half bands together, and it became a wonderful symbiosis of 5 people loving to play loud and heavy music.

Q3 – Did you all know each other before forming High Fighter.

Mona: Not really.. We have once played a gig together a couple of years ago so we knew about both bands, and some of us have common friends like we found out later, but we haven´t met before or after that gig we have played together. Of course Ingwer, Constantin and Thomas knew each other, since they played in Buffalo Hump for years, and so did Shi & I in A Million Miles.

Q4 – Was it an easy decision to form this band and settle on the line-up you currently have now.

Mona: For me it was easy and clear to continue playing music with my best mate Shi. But it was not the easiest way to get back on your feet when a band splits up that sadly as we did. It took some very needed time, to reflect the past and present, to start again, that was for sure not easy.

And it really wasn't easy to find a bassist when we started to look for one, we have tried many. But when we finally teamed up with the guys in Buffalo Hump, we got that fire back and it felt all very clear to me, and just feels good to be back in a very relaxed band with awesome mates, just having a good time.

Q5 – How would you describe you music. As I feel it's it better for that description from the band themselves.

Mona: I would say we play some various mix of Stoner, Metal, Blues, Rock and even Hardcore elements. Let me call it Bluescore, love that, but in the end it depends on what we and the listener feels. So I don´t care too much about the style and what we play, people always needs to categorize, I don´t care.

Q6 – Why did you choose the name High Fighter. As I know you had a different name before you settled on High Fighter. Great name BTW.

Mona: Haha, yes we indeed had and just recently changed our name very last minute. Glad you like it. We haven´t felt the previous name 100% and that it fits to us, so Thomas, who had this name in mind for months now I think, came up with High Fighter. We all loved it, it´s a very strong name but also some kind of mysterious, as I actually can´t tell you who that High Fighter dude is, this can be all created in your very own imagination...

Thomas: When we started to think about our band name, one day Constantin mentioned a band called “Tiefighter“. I understood, “High Fighter“ in that moment and saved it in my mind, because I liked it from the beginning very much. Weeks later, as we sat again together, drinkin’n’smokin, discussing about our new name, I came up with it one more time. And somehow – yes, we started to love it!

Q7 – We have to talk about your debut EP – The Goat Ritual. Was that an easy or hard EP to write and record for.

Mona: When we have formed High Fighter in this final line up, it all came out very natural, each of us is full of ideas, riffs and great creativity! I would say it was super easy, much fun and passion, writing these first songs. But it was also important for us, after we have jammed these tracks over the past 3 months now and it felt so right to us, to record them live – like back in the good old days. Which is not that easy while recording, you need to play super tight, `cause when you fuck one important tone or part up, you need to start again, no editing possible like modern productions do. But we´re more than glad with the result, and I still can´t believe we made it happen to record this EP live, after playing together in this very short time.

Mona: I also dig the artwork for “The Goat Ritual” so much that totally rounds up the entire EP as a highlight, it has been designed by the very talented UK based artist Dominic Sohor.

Thomas: The Recording-Session of the EP was the top of a long rehearsal-procedure. Many weeks before, even when the songs were not done yet, it was definitely clear for us, that we want to record the EP live. So in the end, after the songs has been created and finished and all of us were fine with each of them, our rehearsals comprised to play 5 songs in a row again and again. But, yeah, its amazing and a great feeling, to call it DONE in that short time!

Q8 – What can people expect from The Goat Ritual.

Mona: High Fighter. Pure, simple and heavy. No high class, polished studio production, just us, our sound and how it lives. Expect some great ride of bluesy, dark and finest trips of heavy Stoner Metal. Let the music speak, check our EP we proudly stream here and in full on The Sludgelord, and you will know.

Q9 – It's a very dark EP at times. Especially with Mona's vocals which venture from Hard Rock/Stoner Metal clean vocals to the more scary death based growls. Mona – did you want to explore the more demonic side of your vocal delivery. Or am I looking to much into this.

Mona: I haven´t thought about what I want to explore or not to be honest. I just felt more and more comfortable in doing more growls and shouts, and I have learned how to use it over the years.
Since 2013 has been the worst and toughest year for me ever, there have been a lot of emotions that could brew inside of me, that needed to get out I guess, although my lyrics have nothing to do with any past issues that are done.

With High Fighter and the sound we play, it came out very natural, I have never been a singer who is thinking too much about how I sing before I do, or about any techniques people now learn from youtube or whatever, I just do. In the past I have dealt with very demonic issues in my lyrics, and I think today it´s the opposite of things: I do sound demonic on some parts, but I have found myself and place, and could learn to live without the demons I sang about in the past. My lyrics in High Fighter and on “The Goat Ritual” are stronger and I have probably spend more time and thoughts into the writing process than I did in the past, I do may sing demonic now, but I´m no longer dealing with these demonic issues I had in the past. Feeling much stronger and confident today.

But it is the music and riffs, that give me all the chills and variety I need. If it´s a more catchy pop and clean part, or from a very dark side of mine, the music delivers all I need, that it just can come out naturally.

Q10 – I still can't believe you recorded all this over one weekend in a small rehearsal room. As it sounds amazing for a debut EP. Can you tell us what was the full recording experience like.

Mona: Yes, we can´t believe it either mate! We just wanted to get this band finally out and playing live, so we needed some tunes on tape. We decided to record it live, to show our true sound, and thought “why not recording it in our own rehearsal room, we just want a demo”. Sometimes things can be easier than you think or this industry trying to teach us, even this is still just a demo. But we are lucky enough to have worked with the best sound engineer we could ask for, our very talented friend Benjamin Kapidzic did some ace job and spend a full weekend to record us live, not mentioning all his hard work and time he put into the mix of that EP.

Thomas: At least, I guess, we spent 16 hours in our rehearsal room at one day. The other day not more less. We forgot the time! And I’m very happy with the result – Benjamin did a great job!

Q11 – Do you have a label interested in releasing the EP or will it be all DIY and released by yourselves.

Mona: This band has been unveiled just today, so we don´t know. We´re just happy to get these tunes out now and to sit down with you to talk about High Fighter, thanks again for streaming our first EP on your fantastic blog Steve, we´re stoked.

We will be releasing this as a DIY- release, and you can get it in the next couple of days on our Bandcamp and at our upcoming shows we are currently working on. We are lucky to have signed a publishing deal with Enorm Music in Germany and have some very supportive friends behind us who strongly believe in this band and so do we, but this is all very DIY and all we can think about yet is to finally hit the stage soon.

Q12 - What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

Ingwer: We mostly write the songs all together. Sometimes someone comes up with just one guitar riff and another one has immediately an idea for another part and so on. When the rough framework of a song is ready, Mona already has some good ideas for lyrics and vocals and then we get into detail until we're all satisfied. I'd say 90% of the songwriting happens in our rehearsal room as a very creative group collective.

Q13 – What is the long term goal for High Fighter. Is it a full time project. Will you be releasing a full length album in the next year or so. Or is it too soon to tell.

Mona: High Fighter definitely came here to stay. We can´t wait to finally play our music live on stage, so writing more new songs and hitting the road soon is one of our main goals at the moment. I have mentioned it earlier, but we all are so full of ideas, riffs and creativity, there will be definitely tons of material we can use for a full length soon.

Q14 – Will you be doing any gigs in the near future. If so where will you be focusing your touring efforts on. Germany, Austria or other parts of Europe.

Mona: Yes, we have already booked a first gig in our home-town Hamburg, Germany on December 19th we have announced today, but we absolutely want to tour and get on the road now. We´re not focused on any specific parts of Europe and nothing holds us back to tour outside of Germany, since my previous band A Million Miles toured heavily abroad as well as in the UK, I can´t wait to get back on the road, seeing much more of this world, meeting old and new friends, and touring heavily everywhere we are welcome.

Q15 – Can you tell our readers what is your musical set-up when performing live and recording new material.

Ingwer: Well, for the EP-recordings we used Gibson SG guitars, a Fender Precision bass, Pearl drums, Zildjian cymbals, Orange and Diezel amps plus some pedals for a fuzzy distorted sound. There are also some guitar effects like a phaser, echo or wah wah on some parts. We've been trying out a lot of gear over the past couple of months and I think we're going to use the same set up live, though it could change over time.

Mona: Since we recorded this EP live in our rehearsal room, Benjamin who did a fantastic job on this EP, brought a bunch of technical equipment, great microphones as well, so we were well prepared. On the entire Saturday of our recording weekend in early October we recorded all instrumentals live, and next day I nailed down my vocals with 2-3 takes in total for each song. No editing, just our pure sound. And we cannot wait to bring it live on stage.

Q16 – Which artists and musicians influenced you all as musicians. Any particular bands or albums that standout for you.

Mona: I think we all have some very wide open view on music in general. This is what I actually love, you never know what comes next on the ipod or playlist someone turns on. No rules or terms.
For me personally, I have always been influenced and inspired by bands such as Pantera, Kyuss, Road Saw, desert rock, grunge, doom and sludge bands, as well as a bunch of oldschool stuff such as Iron Maiden, Dio, Black Sabbath, Thin Lizzy.

But yes, when I think about it, I have probably never listened more often to a band than Pantera. :)
But beside my personal taste for more “oldschool” bands, and my daily job as a publicist, I do listen to a lot of great new music and bands, couldn´t abstained from bands at the moment such as Red Fang, Kvelertak, Alunah, Mammoth Mammoth, The Order Of Israfel or Conan, way more I could name now but I don´t think we have the time for boring you with all my favorite bands. ;)

Thomas: Yes, Pantera is definitely a band, which I very like and used to listen to in my whole youth. There were other legendary rock- or metal bands, which gained me like AC/DC, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, David Bowie, Annihilator, Overkill, Motörhead, Monster Magnet, Nirvana, Suicidal Tendencies and many many others. Today there are more bands like for example Death From Above 1979 (they released a great comeback-album this year!), Mastodon, Queens Of The Stone Age, Indian Handcrafts or Automatic Sam. And there’s a new group called High Fighter, or so… I heard they released a strong debut EP with the name - “The Goat Ritual“

Q17 – What are your verdicts on the crowd-funding scene going on within the Hard Rock/Metal scene. Are you fans of this medium and would HIGH FIGHTER ever go down this route.

Mona: I think it´s a great tool for DIY- bands and artists, if you have no label or financial support, and where fans can be involved directly. It definitely helps to get some great projects seeing the light of day. I don´t know if we would go this way yet – we just started the band and are happy that we are here now, but I do think you first really need to work hard and try on your own, and when you do crowd-funding also offer something very special to your fans and supporters, I don´t want anyone to pay for our tour or video when the fan gets a sticker, or when we haven´t tried all we could to realize it on our own. Some projects are too obviously easy to make the big money fas, but many are not and really need the support for a special and great project. And I think it´s awesome that fans can be involved into the process and playing an important role for it.

Our bass player Constantin is actually involved into a crowd-funding project, for start-ups and new effective projects by DIY- artists like in music, film or art in general I think it´s a great tool and way to support a common passion for the fan,too.

Constantin: Yes, right now I´m trying to fund a short film project via a small German crowd-funding platform, which is really not easy at all. You have a direct feedback from the people, which is great to see if your idea has the potential to be successful. And if not, who cares? Crowd-funding is a great tool, but when you really put your heart into something, you need to find another way to realise it.

Q18 – Apart from your new EP, what other plans do you have in store over the next 12 months or so.

Mona: Touring, drinking, smoking, having good times, and writing more new songs and heavy tunes for a full length album.

Q19 – Before we go, Do you have anything else to say to your soon to be new fans.

Mona: Yay, new fan, hello! :) Thanks for taking your time reading this interview and if you already did – thanks for listening to our first EP “The Goat Ritual” here at the Sludgelord. We appreciate your support, please stop by at our page and trip with us, hopefully we will see you soon on the road!

High Fighter thanks for talking to me at Sludgelord. Appreciate this. You have an awesome EP there. Hope it brings you every success that you guys truly deserve.

Thank you Steve for all your continued rock support and all you do for so many amazing bands. One of the best blogs on this planet, keep up the great work, and thank you for your time and support, it means a lot.

High Fighter

Words by Steve Howe and High Fighter